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DC’s Forensic Science Lab Gets International Accreditation

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
DFS director calls earning the distinction so quickly 'unheard of'

The Forensic Science Laboratory of the District’s Department of Forensic Sciences has been approved for accreditation by meeting international standards for forensic operations, DFS Director Max Houck announced.

The FSL currently offers the following examinations: Firearms Examination, Fingerprint Analysis, Forensic Biology (including body fluids and DNA); additional examinations, including Materials Analysis (fibers, paint, adhesives, and glass) and Digital Evidence (electronic devices) will be added later as they are validated.

“Accreditation assures industry and government decision-makers that the organizations are competent and their results can be relied on,” said Bill Hirt of the American National Standards Institute-American Society of Quality, which said the District’s lab meets ISO Standard 17025 for testing and calibration.

“This great news comes just after DFS received approval to begin operating the only Biosafety Level 3 laboratory in the national capital region,” said Mayor Vincent  C. Gray. “Director Houck and the staff have made incredible progress since his agency was created on Oct. 1, 2012 – the same day the state-of-the-art Consolidated Forensic Laboratory opened. And this Administration ensures that the District government continues to offer world-class services to its citizens, visitors and businesses.”

Director Houck said he was “immensely pleased at the work we did. They achieved international accreditation in about eight months; that’s unheard of in this industry. This validates my philosophy on managing: Find and keep quality people, give them resources, and stay out of their way.”

Jason Kolowski, who heads the FSL, said the staff got to this point through “tenacity, creativity, ingenuity and sheer will, working as a team. They have very few colleagues around the world who can say they work in an accredited and independent forensic science laboratory.”

The accreditation certificate is good for five years with annual external audits and regular inspections in addition to internal reviews. Accreditation of forensic labs is voluntary in most jurisdictions but is mandated in the District and a number of states.